HVAC Training Schools and Certification in Ohio

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In the Buckeye State, there is a wealth of heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVAC/R) professionals, as well as a thriving tradition of energy conservation among citizens. For instance, Cleveland’s ABC News affiliate reports that two major Ohio (OH) companies—Mitchell’s Homemade Ice Cream and Great Lakes Brewing—make many of their business decisions based on how to promote sustainability. At Mitchell’s ice cream kitchen, all rainwater is collected and reused while hot water is heated using energy lost from their freezers.

In addition to energy-conscious citizens, Ohio boasts several professional trade associations to support workers in the HVAC industry. For example, the Air Conditioning Contractors of Ohio (ACCO) represents firms throughout the state who install, repair, and perform maintenance on HVAC systems. Boasting over 200 members, this not-for-profit organization hosts conferences, provides worker advocacy, and assists people in the industry with networking.

Furthermore, the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors (PHCC) of Ohio is another exemplary organization that has operated for more than 125 years. It has a political action committee (PAC) to protect HVAC professionals against unnecessary regulation, overbearing legislation, and more. In sum, there’s no shortage of resources available for HVAC workers in the state.

Professionals in this industry take on several tasks. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) offered a breakdown of some common job responsibilities in the HVAC industry, which include installing and maintaining HVAC systems; troubleshooting and repairing machine components (e.g., wiring, piping, motors, ducts, drains, intake valves, fans, humidifiers, unit controls, hot water boilers, hermetic compressors, economizers); providing recommendations on improving system performance or energy efficiency; calculating heat loads and losses; and keeping up-to-date with certifications or licensure. While permits are not required for general HVAC technicians, commercial HVAC contractors in the state must seek licensure from the Ohio Construction Industry Licensing Board (OCILB).

This guide gives Ohio residents a snapshot of what to expect from entering a career in HVAC. Read on to discover the bright occupational outlook, salary prospects, training schools, and contractor licensing for HVAC workers in OH.

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Demand for HVAC Workers in Ohio (OH)

The employment prospects for aspiring HVAC technicians, mechanics, and installers in Ohio and beyond look bright. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2022) expects that there will be a 5 percent increase in job openings in this field between 2021 and 2031, which is as fast as the average growth expected across all occupations during that time period (5 percent). And the prospects are similar in Ohio.

As proof of point, Projections Central (2023) projected a 4.7 percent increase in HVAC positions within Ohio between 2020 and 2030. With the expected addition of 660 fresh jobs in the coming years, the HVAC industry is expected to thrive in the future.

One of the main benefits of pursuing an HVAC career is the relatively high salary for a career typically requiring only one to two years of postsecondary education. It is important to note that proper training is essential, especially since HVAC workers incur a relatively high rate of injury compared to other occupations. This is due to the physical nature of the work, which can expose these professionals to electrical shock, muscle strains, burns, and other problems. With proper training and safety equipment, these maladies can generally be kept to a minimum.

The BLS (2023) noted that approximately seven percent of HVAC workers nationwide are self-employed and can make their own schedules. While some HVAC technicians work normal business hours, others may be called to work evenings, weekends, or holidays, particularly during the busy summer and winter seasons.

As stated above, this industry has no shortage of opportunities, particularly in Ohio. In fact, Indeed (2023) listed 1,372 openings in HVAC work in the Buckeye State, including positions at Eco Plumbers, Electricians, and HVAC Technicians; Apollo Home; Johnson Controls; OhioHealth; and Sodexo. At the same time, Monster (2023) lists additional jobs at organizations like Jobot; Cleveland Cliffs; St. Elizabeth Healthcare; and Sunbelt Rentals, Inc.

HVAC Salaries in Ohio (OH)

Nationwide and in Ohio, HVAC workers earn relatively generous salaries compared to occupations with similar educational attainment. For illustration, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2022) reported 374,770 HVAC workers around the country with an average annual salary of $57,460. In Ohio, average salaries were slightly lower, with the 13,710 HVAC workers employed in the state earning an average of $55,950 per year. Following is a more detailed breakdown of the comparison between OH salaries and those of the rest of the country.

United States Ohio
Number of HVAC professionals employed 374,770 13,710
Average annual salary $57,460 $55,950
10th percentile $36,170 $35,650
25th percentile $44,100 $44,350
50th percentile (median) $51,390 $50,570
75th percentile $65,630 $62,980
90th percentile $82,630 $79,480

As noted above, the average salary for HVAC workers in Ohio is a bit lower than that of the rest of the nation. As with any salary projections, considering the cost of living is also important. The Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2023) ranked Ohio 20th in terms of affordability, making the cost of living lower than average. Ohio residents can expect to find, in particular, big savings when it comes to the cost of housing. For HVAC technicians this means that even a lower-than-average salary will go further in Ohio than it would in many other states.

Accredited HVAC Schools in Ohio (OH)

Before seeking employment as an HVAC technician, mechanic, or installer in OH, it’s important to get training to prepare for the job adequately. Some Ohio residents choose to enroll in apprenticeship programs, which include 2,000 or more hours of on-the-job training under the guidance of an experienced professional; others choose to seek out an HVAC program at a trade school or university.

When considering any training option, verifying that it has received proper accreditation is important. In the HVAC field, two main entities approve schools and college programs: HVAC Excellence and the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA). Ohio has the distinction of having one school with both types of accreditation and seven additional PAHRA-accredited programs.

University of Northwestern Ohio

The University of Northwestern Ohio offers an 88-credit associate of applied science (AAS) in HVAC/R technology and a 61-credit diploma program that prepares graduates to become heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration technicians. These rigorous programs boast small class sizes, various campus clubs, and a 70 percent hands-on training curriculum.

Classes include applications of refrigeration and temperature controls; air conditioning systems and controls; service and procedures; electronics; heat pump systems and controls; heating systems & controls; and more. This is one of the rare HVAC training programs with an earned accreditation from both HVAC Excellence and PAHRA.

  • Location: Lima, OH
  • Accreditation: HVAC Excellence; PAHRA; American Council for Construction Education (ACCE); Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: AAS (18 months); diploma (14 months)
  • Estimated Tuition: $1800 per session

Cuyahoga Valley Career Center

The Cuyahoga Valley Career Center offers a 200-hour heating, ventilation, and air conditioning industrial training program. Students enrolled in the program take courses including HVAC basic, HVAC heating, HVAC cooling, and basic electrical.

Offered two days per week at night, this course prepares graduates to sit for the EPA Section 608 certification and the NATE heating and cooling support technician certificate. Ohio residents who are 22 years or older and did not earn a high school diploma can earn a high school diploma upon completing this program at no extra cost.

  • Location: Brecksville, OH
  • Accreditation: Commission of the Council on Occupational Education (COE); PAHRA
  • Expected Time to Completion: Up to two years
  • Estimated Tuition: $4,062 for the program (including textbooks and exam fees)

Miami Valley Career Technology Center

The Miami Valley Career Technology Center provides a 720-hour HVAC/R technician training program for adult learners. Coursework is offered three days per week at night. Students learn blueprint reading, sheet metal fabrication, solder and brazing, load calculations, and HVAC problem diagnosis.

Additionally, the program prepares students to sit for the EPA section 608 and National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) certifications. Miami Valley boasts a 100 percent employment rate for graduates.

  • Location: Clayton, OH
  • Accreditation: Council on Occupational Education (COE); PAHRA
  • Expected Time to Completion: 54 weeks
  • Estimated Tuition: $13,121

Great Oaks Institute of Technology

The Great Oaks Institute of Technology offers a 900-hour (45-week) night program with multi-pronged training in the field. This program is designed to prepare students for various competency-based certifications such as those from the National Center for Construction Education and Research, ICE (administered by NATE), and the EPA.

Coursework includes training in concepts of electricity; installing and troubleshooting heating systems; servicing and repairing refrigeration equipment; indoor air quality; and more. Students from Great Oaks have gone on to qualify for the Associated Builders and Contractors Apprenticeship Program.

  • Location: Cincinnati, OH
  • Accreditation: Council on Occupational Education (COE); PAHRA
  • Expected Time to Completion: 45 weeks
  • Estimated Tuition: $11,930 for the program (including books, tools, and supplies)

Fortis College in Centerville

Fortis College, formerly known as RETS College in Centerville, OH, offers an HVAC-R program through its Centerville HVAC-R mechanic school. Training students for entry-level employment as HVAC technicians, this school offers a comprehensive 64-credit HVAC-R program that includes extensive hands-on training, covering service for residential and commercial refrigeration, heat pumps, gas and oil furnaces, air conditioning equipment, and electric furnaces.

Ideal for those interested in a career in climate control systems, this program will prepare students to become adept at using several tools for working with air ducts and refrigerant lines. They use thermometers, voltmeters, manometers, pressure gauges, and other testing devices for checking refrigerant pressure, airflow, burners, electrical circuits, and other components. Graduates will be required to take and pass the EPA certification exam.

The curriculum includes courses such as thermodynamics; practical applications of electricity; HVAC-R controls; refrigerants; residential air conditioning; commercial refrigeration concepts; industrial refrigeration and commercial air conditioning; electric heat and heat pumps; gas heating systems; and oil heating systems.

  • Location: Centerville, OH
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC); PAHRA
  • Expected Time to Completion: 12 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $19,452

Belmont College

Belmont College offers both a 34-credit certificate as well as a 64 to 65-credit associate of applied science degree in heating, ventilation, & air conditioning technology. Both programs prepare graduates to install, repair, and maintain commercial and residential HVAC systems.

Including both daytime and evening classes, the HVAC certificate program allows graduates to apply their course credits toward the heating, ventilation, air conditioning & refrigeration associate degree. The curriculum includes courses such as heating & cooling fundamentals; basic electricity, power systems & motors; welding fundamentals; theory of refrigeration and refrigerant handling; piping and installation fundamentals; and forced air and sheet metal.

In the associate of applied science degree program students will put their mechanical aptitude to work as they learn to use new 3D and virtual reality technology and make their learning experience as close as possible to working in the actual world. A Capstone or an internship experience will help students in completing their associate’s degree. Upon graduation, students can put their skills to work in the field for an employer or launch their own business. Graduates can also continue their education by pursuing a bachelor’s degree in HVAC engineering as this program offers a pathway to a four-year degree through articulation agreements with Ohio University.

The AAS degree includes courses such as piping and installation fundamentals; A/C and heating troubleshooting; climate control; refrigeration service and repair; work sequence, assignments & clients; and heating and cooling fundamentals.

  • Location: St. Clairsville, OH
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: AAS (two years); certificate (one year)
  • Estimated Tuition: Ohio resident ($125.75 per credit); out-of-state ($230 per credit)

Accredited HVAC Trade Programs for High School Students in Ohio (OH)

The following are PAHRA-accredited programs designed to give Ohio high school students the career readiness skills they need to become HVAC technicians right after high school graduation.

The Pike County Career Tech Center offers a two-year technical program with training in gas and electric heating; the refrigeration cycle; brazing and soldering; basic electricity; air conditioning and troubleshooting skills. Additionally, students are prepared to take the EPA 608 certification (discussed below) and the HVAC Excellence HEAT exam as well.

North High School, one of the College and Career Academies of Akron, offers a heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning technology career pathway for 10th, 11th, and 12th-grade students. In this program, high school students learn HVAC principles and sheet metal and fabrication.

The RG Drage Career Center offers high school students the opportunity to earn HVAC skills in the classroom and in the real world through organizations like Habitat for Humanity. Students enrolled in this program learn blueprint reading, refrigeration installation, control systems, troubleshooting, and HVAC system repair.

For some prospective HVAC workers residing in more rural regions or those with time commitments which make attending an on-campus program difficult, various distance-based programs are available. To learn about these training options, check out the online HVAC schools page.

Ohio HVAC Licensure & Certification

For Ohio residents interested in careers in HVAC, it’s important to have proper credentialing prior to seeking employment. One mandatory certification for all professionals who work with refrigerants is the EPA Section 608 certification. Due to the environmentally harmful nature of the chemicals used in refrigeration, it’s essential to be trained in their proper use and disposal. There are four categories of this certification: type I (small appliances), type II (high-pressure refrigerants), type III (low-pressure refrigerants), and type IV (universal).

Various national organizations test HVAC workers and provide skill-based credentialing as well. These include the Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES), North American Technician Excellence (NATE), and HVAC Excellence. To learn in-depth about the options available from these entities, please check out the HVAC certifications page.

While no state license is required for general technicians in Ohio, those seeking to become commercial contractors must seek licensure through the Ohio Construction Industry Licensing Board (OCILB). To qualify for an HVAC contractors license in Ohio, candidates must be at least 18 years of age and submit the following:

  • Proof of at least five years of experience as a tradesperson under a licensed contractor in the field (including a copy of at least one permit from a project), or be a registered engineer with at least three years of business experience working in HVAC
  • A passing score on the OCI Examining Board’s test
  • Background check
  • Proof of having at least $500,000 in contractor liability insurance
  • Application fee

To maintain these licenses, contractors must complete ten hours of continuing education annually. Lastly, Ohio boasts licensing reciprocity in HVAC with four states: Kentucky, Louisiana, Tennessee, and South Carolina. Therefore, people with credentials from these states will find it relatively easy to pursue HVAC work in Ohio, and vice versa for OH HVAC contractors seeking work in those states.

Because licensure requirements can vary by municipality, HVAC professionals in Ohio should ensure that they are operating within the requirements of the state and the city where they work. It is the job of any HVAC technician to verify licensure requirements and keep their credentialing up to date.

Jocelyn Blore

Jocelyn Blore is the chief content officer of Sechel Ventures and the co-author of the Women Breaking Barriers series. She graduated summa cum laude from UC Berkeley and traveled the world for five years. She also worked as an addiction specialist for two years in San Francisco. She’s interested in how culture shapes individuals and systems within societies—one of the many themes she writes about in her blog, Blore’s Razor (Instagram: @bloresrazor). She has served as managing editor for several healthcare websites since 2015.